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Tiger Woods edges into contention at the Masters

Posted: 5:14 PM, Apr 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-11 22:34:14Z
Tiger Woods edges into contention at the Masters

Maybe it was the mock turtleneck shirt, a blast from his illustrious past, but Tiger Woods' swagger was back as he enjoyed a share of the lead on the opening day of the 83rd Masters at Augusta.

The 43-year-old, who won the last of his four Masters Green Jackets in 2005 sporting a red turtleneck, surged to the front with a solid, collected display before a late blip dropped him back.

Woods carded a two-under 70 to sit one off the lead with half the field still to finish as he chases a 15th major title, 11 years after his last.

"Overall, it was a good solid day, I grinded my way around the golf course," he told Sky Sports.

The former world No.1 admits he went through "dark times" and feared his playing career was over as he battled a succession of back problems, but spine fusion surgery in 2017 led to a remarkable resurgence last year, culminating in his 80th PGA Tour title and first for five years in the season-ending Tour Championship.

Woods was also second in the US PGA last summer and briefly led the Open and he continued his good form in majors on a balmy day at Augusta.

He ended in a group one behind the leading pack, which included Justin Harding, former champion Adam Scott and playing partner Jon Rahm of Spain.

However, no one managed to pull clear of the field and Woods will know his effort puts him right in the mix, given that the past 13 Masters champions have come from the top 10 after the first round.

The last player to win from outside the top 10 on day one? Woods himself. He has also opened with a round of 70 in three of his four Masters victories -- 1997, 2001 and 2002.

Woods told reporters before the tournament he had a "pretty good little library" in his head of how to play Augusta and he used it to full effect on a difficult day for scoring.

"I tried to take care of the par fives when I could and just tried to stay mistake free. It's hard to do, but a good positive start," said Woods, who admitted some of the pin positions surprised him.

"I executed my plan pretty much all the way around."

The American had none of his usual issues with the opening tee shot at Augusta and dipped under par for the first time with a birdie at the long second. The newly extended fifth gave him some problems and he made a bogey via the fairway bunker, but he picked up another shot at the ninth, although he missed a number of other short putts.

Woods went through the infamous stretch known as Amen Corner -- holes 11 and 12 -- in level par and found the green of the long 13th in two before two putts gave him another birdie.

After a loose drive into the left trees on 14 he found the green and drained a 25-footer for back-to-back birdies to join a three-way tie for the lead at three under. Woods would have hoped to make more hay at the long 15th but his approach flew long and he had to battle just to save par.

A poor drive to the right on 17 led to a dropped shot and he could only make par on 18 after driving into the fairway bunker.